Nominate Land

Property Nomination
  • The public nominates property to the Program.
  • A simple one-page form ​is all that is required.
  • Examples of past nominations are: North East park additions in Gainesville, 17-acre greenspaces in High Springs, 2,000-acre forests, to the entire Santa Fe River corridor.
  • Funds are limited, so not every property can be acquired.
  • The more environmentally significant, the better the chances it will be approved by the Land Conservation Board and the County Commission.
  • Staff is available to assist and answer questions.
Notes
  • Property owners must be willing. Condemnation of property is not permitted.
  • Projects are evaluated by staff and the volunteer Land Conservation Board.
  • Criteria include water resources protection, habitat protection, species protection, social value, manageability, economic and acquisition issues.
  • The County Commission approves all projects.
  • The County can negotiate to acquire property outright or acquire certain rights through conservation easements.
  • Offers are made based on independent, private appraisals of market value.
  • Acquisitions are funded through $29 million in voter-approved bonds, payable through a quarter-mill ad valorem property tax, levied for 20 years.
  • Million of dollars have been provided by partner agencies, cities, private groups and individuals.
Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I submit an application if I am not the property owner?
YES. The process allows anyone to nominate projects to ACF.

Can I nominate land for acquisition without the property owner's permission?
YES. However ACF acquires land from willing sellers only. The owner may request the land be removed from consideration at any time during the process. The owner will also be asked to grant permission for staff to access the property to conduct a site inspection.

Can I hire an agent to represent me?
YES. While it is not necessary to hire a real estate agent, it may be advisable if it would make you more comfortable with the process. The agent would work for you and be paid out of the proceeds due to you from the sale.

Can I obtain information on property ownership, Tax Parcel Number, Land Use, Zoning and Tax Assessment?
YES. Contact the Alachua County Property Appraiser's Office (352-374-5230) and the Alachua County Growth Management Department (352-374-5249). You may also obtain maps and aerial photographs from the departments listed above, or you may purchase a U.S.G.S. topographical map from most outdoor recreation stores.

Can I submit a multi-parcel project?
YES. You should check the box provided and list all of the parcel numbers of your proposed project on the form. In addition, you may submit a map outlining the proposed project boundary.

If I have a report that would support my application but that is longer than the 15 pages allowed, may I submit it with the nomination form?
YES. You may submit any published and bound publication that would assist staff in their evaluation of the proposal documentation. You may also submit the form with just a reference to the publication. Any loose materials should stay within the 15-page limit.

May I nominate any size project?
YES. The Commission has not set size limits on proposed projects. However, the evaluation criteria and matrix favor larger proposals.

Are there opportunities for me and others to speak on the proposal?
YES. The Land Conservation Board and the Board of County Commissioners hold public hearings and workshops concerning the proposals throughout the application process. Staff will be attempting to contact both the property owners and the nominator well in advance of these meetings.

Does ACF offer any alternatives to outright acquisition of environmentally sensitive property?
YES. ACF has a variety of tools available to suit individual sellers' needs. Options range from fee simple purchases to life estates to conservation easements to donations. Landowners should indicate to staff that they are interested in discussing these options at the earliest opportunity. Two important notes is that any agreement would have to be perpetual, would ride with the land and survive any sale of the property to other interests.

"Urban Myths"

Can Alachua County afford to take land off the tax rolls?

Actually, by early 2013, Alachua County Forever has protected over $75 million in real estate using $37 million in voter-approved funds. The reason the program could purchase more land than it received in local funds is due to state matches, bargain sales, and acquisitions by partners. Let's look at the impact. The tax base in Alachua County in 2012 was $10.5 billion. The impact on the tax base is $75,000,000 / $10,500,000,000 = 0.007 or less than 1/10 percent. This assumes the property would be taxed at the purchase price. In reality the impact is even lower since the taxable value of the purchases is much lower ($4.6 million) making the impact 0.04%.

Some would argue that even this is too much to reduce our tax base by. However, consider the growth in our tax base -- in the years since this referendum was passed (Nov. 2000), Alachua County's tax base has grown by $4 billion. This means that every four days, the total value of Alachua County's tax base increases by more than the entire taxable value of all the land removed from the tax rolls. If you are to use the market value of the purchases, that impact would be recovered in 24 days.

Purchasing land for conservation reduces future development and economic opportunities.

It is true that land acquired for land conservation can no longer be developed in the traditional sense.  But scores of studies have shown that land which remains natural will proportionately use many fewer government services than land that is slated for development.  Even land that has not been developed yet, but might be in the future, costs the government money as it must anticipate in its infrastructure planning the demand for utilities, roads, schools, and other public services.

The second factor is the positive impact which nearby greenspace has on property values.  Again, numerous real estate studies have demonstrated that properties near parks and other open space are significantly more valuable (thus adding to the tax rolls). Consider the relatively high value of properties near lopen spaces such as lakes, sea shores, golf courses, Central Park in N.Y City, and national parks.  

Purchasing land for conservation restrict future generations in their use of the land.

Actually, land development restricts future generations more than land conservation, because it is all too easy to turn natural habitat into suburban sprawl, but virtually impossible to do the reverse.  In the future, people will have the choice of what to do with natural areas, as there are no government programs which permanently lock up the land.  State lands and their use is controlled by the Governor and Cabinet, local lands are controlled by the County or City Commission.  In most cases, conservation lands are initially protected for the duration of the bonds or other funding source which purchased them after that, they are only protected by the political majority of the governing body with jurisdiction. As a practical matter, open space becomes much loved by people and it is politically very difficult to sell or change the use of a park or preserve.

An even more important consideration is the need for youth to experience the outdoors.  Numerous studies have shown that the continued disconnection from nature is having profound implications on the next generation. We are raising the first generation of children in American history to have no significant connection to the outdoors and the impacts on mental and physical health, and on cultural and political institutions will be profound if we don't provide them with outdoor opportunities.  The children of today, on average, are allowed to roam in 1/9th the area that their parents frequented at the same age.  We need greenspace, if not for its own sake, then for ours.